If you have searched online to find the best instant thermometer, then you may have noticed that the market is saturated with hundreds of models.
They offer all the same features and you can get easily confused to find which one is the right ones to really consider.
I know the importance of picking a good meat thermometer, that’s why I decided to write a buying guide to help you really find the best instant read thermometer on the market.
In order to make the best possible choice, we took a look into each model’s features, construction, warranty, and customer reviews.
After we reviewed more than 36 models, here are the models which we think are worth considering.
Note: If you are in a hurry, you can use the table below for quick navigation or just click here to jump directly to our editor’s conclusion.
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick Comparison Table
- 2 Why Need to Buy an Instant Read Thermometer
- 3 Reviews of the Best Instant Read Thermometers for 2020
- 4 Final Thoughts
- 5 Instant Read Thermometer Buying Guide
- 6 Factors to Consider when Picking an Instant-Read Thermometer
- 7 How to use an Instant Read Thermometer?
In a Rush? Here's Our Winner!
Quick Comparison Table
-40 - 482 °F
4.5 × 1.4 × 0.8
-58° - 572 °F
6.7 x 1.1 x 2.2
-67° - 482 °F
5.13 x 9.13 x 2
-58° - 572 °F
6.1 x 1.3 x 1.6
-58° - 572 °F
6.14 x 1.5 x 0.71
Why Need to Buy an Instant Read Thermometer
If you are really serious about cooking or grilling, then you should know that a thermometer is a must-have tool in your kitchen gadgets.
But, why it is so important? Here are a couple of reasons:
Instant read thermometers allow you to accurately measure and know when the food is ready.
It doesn’t matter if it is a loaf of bread or a well-done steak, knowing the exact temperature will allow you to know if it is at the recommended internal doneness.
Almost every model in this list has an accuracy of ~+(-)0.9°F, which is pretty good.
Instant-read thermometers, much different from other traditional analog models, will give you the temperature in 2-3 seconds while traditional models will take up to 20 seconds. This is pretty useful especially if you don’t want to lose the cooking heat by having the door open for 20-30 seconds.
Besides that, traditional digital thermometers can be a few degrees off, which can make a difference between an undercooked or overcooked food.
Another benefit of having a food thermometer is safety. If you know the internal temperature of the meat, you are 100% sure that it has reached the minimum recommended internal temperature, eliminating any risk of undercooked foods and foodborne illness.
Reviews of the Best Instant Read Thermometers for 2020
1. Javelin PRO Duo - Editor's Pick
Javelin PRO Duo is an excellent choice if you don’t want to spend a lot of money but still are looking for something fast and very accurate.
It features a sleek body and a comfortable-in-hand design, feeling very sturdy. It is also very durable, with IP65 splashproofness, making it safe to use in different environments.
The orange contrasting color is actually an anti-microbial coating which prevents bacteria from growing on it, a very common issue when used with grease or oily/dirty hands.
As for the speed and accuracy, this model will give you the temperature in 2-3 seconds, with an accuracy of +(-).9°F.
The 4.5” probe will quickly detect temperatures ranging between -40°F to 482°F without any issues.
The large 2” LCD screen features auto-rotation to make it compatible with a left hand and right-hand use, as well as reading more easily in different positions and situations.
The LCD screen is fog-resistant, equipped with a bright backlight for night use and has a 360-degree viewing angle, making it very easy to read the screen from odd angles.
This model has also Intelligent Stabilization, as it is called from Javelin. This system gives you an alert when the thermometer has to identify the stabilized temperature, increasing the accuracy of the reading. You only have to hold the screen to activate this feature and the device will beep when the stabilized temperature is detected.
Apart from these features, there are several other cool features hosted in this model.
The backlight will be activated when you share the device, making it very easy to turn it on when you are wearing gloves or cannot press the button.
It also has a power-saving mode to save battery life by auto-sleep and auto-wake functions. A battery saving feature is always useful, even though this model has a battery which can last up to 4000 hours.
Overall, the Javelin PRO Duo is an excellent option. We can easily call this one of the best instant smoker thermometers, with sturdily built, accurate, and full of features. And, when considering the affordable price tag, this model is really a great option to consider.
The Mister Chefer is another low priced option on this list which is packed with features and nice extras.
With such a low price tag, you don’t expect to be the highest quality build on the market but still, the manufacturer offers Lifetime warranty and a 100% money back guarantee policy, making it very preferable by a lot of people.
Also, the manufacturer claims that this unit is waterproof, which is another major advantage over other competitors.
This model is capable of reading the temperature in just 3 seconds and with an accuracy of +(-)1°F. Even though there are models which are capable of reading the temperature in just 2 seconds, I think that 3 seconds is still fast enough to not affect your regular use.
Just like the other models on this list, the Mister Chefer offers a wide range of temperature from -58°F to 572°F, making it compatible for high heat cooking. The displayed temperature can be switched from Fahrenheit to Celsius at a push of a button.
With this thermometer, you can read the temperature in every environment, thanks to its backlight button. There is also a button to hold the temperature for more easier and correct reading.
The unit inside has a magnet so you can attach to the refrigerator or any other metal appliance on the kitchen.
With a simple auto on and auto off feature, this thermometer couldn’t be easier to use. To turn it on, you just simply open the probe and to turn it off, just close the probe.
Overall, it is a very affordable option, with plenty of features and okay construction. It is ideal for those who are looking for an affordable option and don’t mind losing some build quality.
This is a more slightly expensive model we decided to review but it is still worth considering.
On the outside, it features an all-black design, with rubber corners and shiny black in the center. It has a small LCD screen, three indicators, and three buttons to help you use the unit more easily.
One cool feature which makes this model stand out from its competitors is that it can measure the temperature with a cooking probe or by using its infrared sensor.
As for the temperature range, this model offers a wide range, from -67°F to 482°F via the infrared thermometer and up to 626°F with the cooking probe.
It has a hold setting to freeze the detected temperature on the screen, for you to get a better look at it.
The 5-inch stainless steel cooking probe has a step-down tip, making it easier to penetrate the food. The probe can also be folded when not in use, for easier storage.
It is powered by 2 x AAA Batteries which are included in the package and has an auto shut off feature to ensure longer battery life.
One thing which we don’t like about this model is the design. It looks more like a tool than a gadget to be left in the kitchen.
Overall, Taylor Precision is a good instant infrared thermometer. It is a great option for those who are looking for a hybrid model, which gets the job done and don’t care if it is the best looking model out there.
4. ThermoPro TP03A - Runner-Up
The ThermoPro TP03A comes from a company which is well-known for only producing solid and very high-quality digital and wireless cooking thermometers for years.
It is packed with some nice features and offers a lot of quality, especially for its price.
On the construction side, it has a contrast red design, made of solid plastic, making it feel pretty sturdy in the hand.
On the front, it has a small LCD screen and main on/off button.
The 3.9” stainless steel probe is capable of reading the temperature in about 4-7 seconds, making it a little bit slower than some of the other models on this list.
As for accuracy, ThermoPro states that it is accurate to +(-)0.9°F and offers a temperature range from -58°F - 572°F (-50°C - 300°C), making it ideal for indoor and outdoor cooking, grilling, BBQ, etc.
Its smart design, allows the 3.9” probe to be folded or expanded up to 180°, making it easy to use on hard-to-reach areas.
And, when you don’t need it, you can completely fold the probe and lock into the base. The magnetic back will help you store it in any metal surface, saving you time and space.
It is powered by 1 x AAA Battery, which is included and has an auto shut-off feature after 10 minutes of no use, to save some battery life.
As for warranty, the ThermoPro includes 1 year of warranty, which can be extended to 3 Years by just registering the product.
They offer US Based Customer Service by phone and email, 5 days a week, for any issue you may have.
Overall, it is a pretty solid model, with tons of features and affordable price. It is 1-2 seconds slower than some of the other models on this list, which we think it’s a drawback you should consider.
The last product featured in this list is the Smak Digital Meat Thermometer.
It is a simple and easy to use product, with features similar to the other models on this list and plenty of color options.
It has a solid ABS plastic construction all around and a matte-black on the center, where the 1.75” Bright LCD screen and the buttons are placed.
As for the color, this is one of the few models on the market which offer such variety of colors, 7 colors in total, including Chilli, Orange, Dark Steel, Plum, Stealth, Lime & Mango.
The probe is made of food grade stainless steel and can perfectly read temperatures from beef, turkey, lamb, pork, fish or chicken every time.
This model needs just 2-3 seconds to measure the accurate temperature of your food, and has a temperature range from -58°F to 572°F (-50°C - 300°C), making it perfect for baking, frying, grilling, BBQ, etc.
You can store it anywhere, thanks to its internal magnet back and the folding design.
And if you forget to turn it off, it will automatically shut off after 10 minutes to save battery life.
The Smak offers a 30-day warranty and a 3-year free replacement, giving this model a major advantage.
Our Editor's Conclusion:
After we reviewed all the models on this list, we think that the winner is the Javelin Pro. It is simple to use, very fast and accurate, has durable construction and come with 3 year warranty and a very affordable price.
Instant Read Thermometer Buying Guide
Before jumping into a few factors you should consider when looking for an instant read thermometer, first let me explain you how these thermometers work.
How do instant read thermometers work?
Unlike the traditional thermometers, an instant read thermometer use electricity to read the temperature.
In simple words, they measure the heat as energy and then use the technology to convert it into Fahrenheit or Celsius, which you read on the screen. It is much more complicated than that but this as simple as it can gets for you to understand it.
There are two types of cooking probes used in these models: Thermistors Probes and ThermoCouples Probes.
What is the Difference between Thermistors and Thermocouples probes?
These two types of probes are very different from each other.
The Thermistors are the cheaper and less advanced option, being use usually on the most affordable models.
They are less accurate and not as sensitive to temperature, which will require longer for it to read and give you an accurate temperature.
These types of probes are made of carbon and epoxy and require casting of more than 1/8 inch in diameter. This makes them thicker than thermocouples, requiring you to sink the probe into the food about 5/8 inch to get an accurate reading. While this may not be an issue for huge chunks of meat, it is not ideal for thin cuts like fish or burgers.
Another difference between these probes is that the thermistor is capable of a max temperature range of 480°F, not more, making it not ideal for high-temperature cooking situations.
As for Thermocouples, they are more complex and more advanced. They have two wires made of different allows, which are welded together into a single probe.
The construction is almost the same but the technology required to decipher the read data is more expensive in Thermocouples, which is why they cost more.
And with their advanced technology, they are capable of reading the temperature with accuracy faster, up to 15 seconds less than the Thermistors.
The most common alloy used to make the thermocouples is the Type K thermocouple. Models with this thermocouple are more accurate, within 0.7°F-2°F and usually offer a much wider temperature range, from -58° to 572°.
Factors to Consider when Picking an Instant-Read Thermometer
Instant Read Thermometers may seem like simple and basic devices but they have a ton of features and have a lot of things you should consider and analyze before picking one.
Speed and Reading Time
Probably the most important factor to consider when looking for instant read thermometer reviews online is the Speed and Reading Time of each model.
How fast does it take for the unit to read the temperature? How long to get a stable reading?
Most models take about 2-3 seconds to get an accurate stabilized temperature but there are some very cheap models which can take up to 9-10 seconds. We think that you should skip those models as they lose the purpose of so-being-called instant read meat thermometers.
Response and reading times are actually pretty important as they can make the difference between a medium-well and a well-done steak.
And, along speed and reading time, you should consider the model accuracy.
Most models are rated at 0.7-0.9°F accuracy, which is as good as it gets. Anything with accuracy rating below 2°F is worth having.
Durability and Construction
Even though instant read thermometers are not meant to be used heavily or do ‘heavy’ works, they are still prone to splashes, drops, high heat, water, etc.
You want a model which is durable and will survive common accidents around the kitchen.
Most of the products in our list are IP-rated for drops, falls and water, so you are good to choose one with an IP rating IP67 or higher.
Cooking probe is also important. There are currently two technology used on instant-read thermometers probe: the Thermistor and Thermocouples. You can read more about them here.
The Thermistor probes work great on budget models as they are much cheaper than Thermocouples. If you want more accuracy and fast readings, Thermocouples is the right one.
Pay attention to the temperature range of each model. Most models will be capable of measuring up to 550-600°F and some even higher.
As for the opposite temperature, not all models are capable of reading below freezing temperatures, but for most of the people, this isn’t an issue.
LCD Screen and Backlight
All models we decided to review in this list comes with an LCD screen for easier temperature reading.
Having an LCD screen on your unit, especially if the screen is larger, will make your job easier as you will not have any difficulties to read the digits on the screen if you are in an odd position.
Also, having a backlight feature will help you a lot if you use the meat thermometer during dark times or at night.
Last but not least, is the battery life. You will be surprised how annoying it is to try to measure the temperature and find out that your batteries have run out of juice. And, imagine doing that process very often; It isn’t going to feel good.
So, what you can do instead, is opt for a product with long battery life, 3000 hours plus is recommended as you don’t have to change the batteries often.
To put it in perspective, one single battery usually lasts 2000 hours on an instant-read thermometer.
How to use an Instant Read Thermometer?
It doesn’t matter if you pick the most expensive meat thermometer, if you don’t know how to use it, then it will not work properly.
Here it’s a quick how to use guide if you are not confident into your skills:
Locate the Coolest Part
With instant read thermometers, you don’t have to put it into the center of the meat. It is recommended to first find the coolest part of the meat.
This means that is not always the center as it depends on the type of cut and if there is any bone or water near.
Putting the Probe
So, after you found the coolest part, now it is time to put the thermometer in.
Aim for a general area and rather than trying to find if you have pushed through the center, keep pushing until the tip comes on the other side of the meat.
If you have a cut with bone, push it in until it hits the bone.
Reading the Temperature
As you pushed the probe through the meat, now it is time to pull the thermometer back.
Slowly pull the thermometer back and as the tip enters the meat, it will start to show the temperature. At first, it will rise and then start to drop as you get closer to the center.
After you see the temperature rising and dropping, you will want to get the minimum temperature as that is the most accurate one.